Monday 26 November 2012

Outdoor Environments

water play in Austria - simple but effective
 So here comes a little bit about outdoor environments. Not much, just a little taster and some link with some great texts and fabulously inspiring photographs. So if quality outdoor environments imprive sleep and health in young children - what makes a great outdoor environment?
I think there are so many variations - most seem to have a nature theme to them, space for role-play and space to explore - but I still think the vital component is the adults. Its what we do with the outdoor environment that will really make it meaningful. Yes, the children need time to explore in their own way - but they also need adult scaffolding. I remember reading about free-play often being the time when bullies can be more active (will look that one up again) so our presence and involvement is important. I think that often the outdoors is not used as effectively as the indoors by teachers - its like break time - the children run free. Not saying this of all places - but I just think the outdoor learning arena has not yet reached its full potential.
sometimes it is enough with some natural elements to experiment with
 I am lucky that my own three children get plenty of time to explore nature - my in-laws live in the middle of the countryside - allowing my children to explore in the forest, the lake, the meadows and all the animals that live there - as well as visiting the farms in the area. I see this as a huge gift, and wish that all children could have access to these kind of natural experiences.
mud kitchen in one of Stockholm's play areas
I also think that the parks and playgrounds in Stockholm are fantastic with varying outdoor facilities - some with animals and some also have indoor facilities with staff too. I feel fortunate to be raising my children in Stockholm.

Now for a few links to sites and pdf's that have great inspirational photos and information/research about playing outdoors.

Beacon Rise Primary School, just outside Bristol - play area at Beacon Rise Primary School

Here is a great site with lots of photos of play areas - so take the time to scroll down naturalplay

Another useful document  -from Australia

Young Children and Nature: Outdoor Play and Development, Experiences Fostering Environmental Consciousness, And the Implications on Playground Design
Ashley Parsons (no photographs)

Well that is it from me today - I will be returning to outdoor environments again - and I will take a more Swedish focus next time...


  1. Suzanne, thanks again for another great post giving me a glimpse into other places. I look forward to the next one! Would you ever consider linking up to the outdoor play party that I have over at my blog? Kierna